Skip to comments.May 12th, 1864, General Hancock attacks the Muleshoe at Spotsylvania
Posted on 05/12/2014 6:39:29 AM PDT by abishai
On May 12, General Grant ordered II Corps commander Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock to lead the attack on the Muleshoe, this time from the north, near its tip, where in theory it should have been most vulnerable...
..During the night Confederate pickets heard a rumbling that sounded like troops moving, and Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson alerted his brigade commanders... Within the works Rebels got the order to fire, but in the damp morning air many powder charges failed to ignite. The Yankees poured over the Confederate works by the hundreds, fighting hand-to-hand with bayonets and clubbed muskets. The Federals captured 4,000 prisoners including General Johnson and Brig. Gen. George Steuart, who refused to shake Hancocks hand when taken to him. ..Birneys troops, meanwhile, captured most of the Stonewall Brigade. Hancocks attack, plunging into the heart of the Muleshoe, was close to splitting Lees army in half.
Grant had made plans to reinforce Hancock, and at 6 a.m. the 15,000 men of Brig. Gen. Horatio Wrights VI Corps launched their attack about 300 yards west of Hancocks right. By 6:30 the first of these troopsthe three regiments of Colonel Oliver Edwardsmoved along the northwestern side of the captured Confederate trenches where the earthworks made an angle. Over the next two hours as a downpour drenched the field, more troops, including Uptons Brigade, moved in. In this 200-yard-wide stretch, at what the troops called the Bloody Angle, all hell broke loose as Union and Confederate soldiers standing only a few feet apart shot, bludgeoned and bayoneted one another beyond recognition. Countless men were trampled in the mud four and five deep. A hornets nest of musket fire even cut down an 18-inch-diameter tree trunk. The fighting raged for nearly 20 hours.
(Excerpt) Read more at civilwar.org ...
Lee kept his seat, doing what he could to calm the animal, but Traveller kept rearing. It was well he did; for as he went back on his hind legs, boxing the air with his forehoofs, a solid shot, which otherwise would have killed or maimed both the animal and his rider, passed directly under his belly.
Horrified, the Mississippians began to yell: "Go back, General! Go back! For God's sake, go back!" They tried to get between him and the exploding shells, urging him to hurry out of range, but Lee was in no more of a mind to retire...
At last he said, "If you will promise me to drive those people from our works, I will go back." The soldiers cheered and, while Lee watched admiringly, took up the march at a faster rate, joining Rodes in time to prevent a breakthrough which one of his brigadiers had just warned him was only minutes away..."
from The Civil War, by Shelby Foote